ncsoft

A major global studio based in South Korea, known in the west for games like WildStar, Guild Wars 2, and Aion, among many others.

Choose My Adventure: Farewell to Project Gorgon

Out of all the titles that I’ve played for Choose My Adventure, Project Gorgon is probably the earliest in its development cycle. It’s also, by a sizable margin, the best in show. If you’re looking for a quick ringtone-style clip to take away from this column, that would be the one.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have a lot of criticisms of the game, nor does it mean that this is a game which will delight and amaze everyone who plays it. I have a somewhat biased starting point anyway because I talk about this subgenre for a living, and thus I have certain tastes that not everyone is going to share. That isn’t meant as a brag; that’s meant as a self-admonishment because these are things no one should really care about all that much.

Still, here I am, here this game is, and I am happy to pronounce it the best of all the Choose My Adventure games that I’ve played for this feature so far – albeit with the slight caveat that it won’t be able to hold onto that title forever if it doesn’t actually address some of the issues that I noticed while playing.

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Guild Wars 2 previews upcoming PvP/WvW skill splits

A skill is going to have the same general effect in all arenas of Guild Wars 2, but there are a lot of things to be tweaked for the game’s PvP and WvW arenas. The development team has posted a roadmap of the upcoming skill splits and rebalancing, including several changes happening just for PvP and others for both PvP and WvW. Said roadmap also explains the goals with all of these skills, with an emphasis on greater build diversity, fewer passive effects in PvP, and less burst efficiency on instant-cast spells.

Naturally, the player community has looked over these changes, and there’s a debate currently running about whether or not several of the skill changes listed would also be hugely positive for the game’s PvE side as well. Whether or not this is accurate is something for the team to debate, but there have been responses from the devs that these buffs may also be applied to underperforming skills on the PvE side as well. So you might want to look through the full rundown even if you avoid PvP.

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The Daily Grind: What is the best-designed MMO class you’ve ever played?

There are good MMO classes and bad classes. There are well-designed ones and ones that just never gelled. But every once in a while, you come across a class that clicks on every level and works so well that it goes right to the top of your favorites.

Among the many MMOs I’ve played over the years, only a small handful of classes in these games had that effect on me. City of Heroes’ (well, City of Villains’) Mastermind was one of these, cementing itself as the best pet class I’ve ever tried. And I’ve always been somewhat in awe of Lord of the Rings Online’s Captain, who really nailed a great hybrid build while remaining thematically distinct.

What would you say is the best-designed MMO class you’ve ever played? What about that class put it heads and shoulders above the rest?

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ArenaNet delays Guild Wars 2’s next living world episode to ensure it ‘lives up to standards’

Were you expecting Guild Wars 2 to drop a new living world episode trailer today, complete with deets on when the episode is rolling out? We were too. Turns out it’s all been slightly delayed.

“We are fast approaching the end of our 2-3 month cadence window for Living World Episodes and this morning we were hoping to unveil the Episode 2 Trailer along with the announcement of its release date,” says ArenaNet’s Mike Zadorojny. “However, as we were preparing the episode for launch we discovered issues that we want to take additional time to address, to make sure it lives up to our standards. Once we have nailed down the last few details, started the process for moving the build to Live, and are confident when the episode will launch, we will release the trailer. Thank you for patience and bearing with us as we put the finishing touches on Episode 2. We look forward to playing the next chapter of Living World with all of you once it is released.”

Maybe next week?

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 158: We are all heroes

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin put on their voxel capes as they look ahead to Trove’s new expansion, LOTRO’s Hobbit fantasies, the ups and downs of Elder Scrolls Online’s outfit system, and more!

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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Flameseeker Chronicles: My favourite Guild Wars 2 Friend/Ships stories

Friendships and social interaction are everything when it comes to enjoying MMOs in my mind, so you can imagine how much I adore the Guild Wars 2 Friends/Ships initiative that ArenaNet started this month to celebrate Valentine’s Day outside of Tyria. Using the hashtag #GW2Friendships hooks up players’ game-related friendship stories to a special webpage that is full of feelgood, touching GW2 anecdotes about how the game brings people together, and I’ve had a wonderful time checking out all the ways in which the game has managed to solidify such meaningful relationships between people. It’s wonderful to see a Valentine’s Day initiative that doesn’t centre only on romantic love: I’ve seen stories that involve couples, of course, but most are stories about friendship and some again even tell of bringing family units closer together through their shared hobby.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll take you through some of my favourite stories I found during my browsing and will also share my own. You can read the full submissions by clicking the link in each heading: I don’t want to simply regurgitate each story in this article but I do give you enough information to get the gist while also explaining why I loved it so much. Feel free to join in with the friendly sharing in the comments here as usual, but remember that the Friends/Ships initiative runs until the end of the month and the associated competition for sharing your story (in which you can win a trip to the ArenaNet studio and PAX West!) runs until February 28. Simply use both the #GW2Friendships and #GW2Giveaway hashtags on your social media share of the story to enter: Check out the full terms before posting. Read more

Analysts see ‘potential for earnings growth’ in NCsoft’s trio of upcoming titles

If you walked away confused by NCsoft’s most recent quarterly financial report, Mirae Asset Daewoo Co. might be able to sort it out for you.

The Seoul-based analyst firm suggests that the Lineage series, which appeared strong at first glance, actually turned in weaker than expected revenue, in spite of the fact that Lineage M was the top-grossing game on Android and iOS. “The biggest surprise was marketing spend, which jumped 10% QoQ and 69% YoY, despite the absence of any new major titles,” the firm notes. “We believe this suggests the company spent as much on promoting Lineage M’s massive updates as it typically does on promoting new titles.”

That said, the firm still calls the company a buy: “We see little reason for concern in terms of profit and valuation in 1H18 and see potential for earnings growth and a re-rating in 2H18, driven by new releases.” What new releases would those be? Blade & Soul II (first half of the year) and Aion Tempest and Lineage II M (last half of the year).

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Global Chat: What is the population of Guild Wars 2?

Does it matter how many people are playing your MMO? For some, yes, it does. It’s at least of passing interest to others, especially if players are looking for a “healthy” title or want a large number with which to impress their friends and argue that this MMO is besting another.

So don’t be too surprised that there is an effort to figure out what Guild Wars 2’s (undisclosed) population is at the moment. In An Age challenges one community estimate of 3.3 million players by looking at the available evidence and financial reports.

“Here’s my gut check: Guild Wars 2 probably has about 1.5 million monthly ‘players’ and many times less people who actually log on when there isn’t a holiday event/Living Story taking place,” he argues. “Ultimately though, I think Guild Wars 2 is actually uniquely well-positioned to survive regardless of whether it consists of a million actives or three million tourists.”

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One Shots: First steps into a wider world

Every MMORPG player knows that there is something incredible and magical in the feeling that you get when you take your very first steps into a new game. It’s the fresh scent of the unknown mixed with potential, excitement, and energy.

Reader François knows this all too well as he documents an early moment from Final Fantasy XIV: “The trees of the Shroud meet the sky as Kan-E-Senna watches a young adventurer depart for the other nations of Eorzea. A familiar sight for anyone who started in Gridania.”

Small pet peeve, but when your city has a name like “Gridania” and your street patterns are all twisty-turny, you’re going to make my eye twitch. Elves need to buy better urban planners, IMO.

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Citadel Studios and Nexon are recruiting talent

If studio job postings get your blood pumping with the thoughts of what could be, here are a couple of tantalizing tidbits that perhaps hint at future development.

Legends of Aria developer Citadel Studios posted a job listing for both a digital marketing specialist and a game programmer. By the way, if you happen to be testing Aria right now, you should know that the NDA was lifted earlier this week.

Nexon — which you may have heard of — put out a notice with the hopes of recruiting a game director for its Nexon OC Studio. The specific game in question was not mentioned, although the description does ask for candidates that have worked on previous AAA titles.

If that last post sounds a little familiar, perhaps it is because you are remembering that former WildStar and World of Warcraft developer Stephen Frost went to work as a game director at Nexon OC last year.

Source: Gamasutra, Legends of Aria. Thanks Pepperzine!

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Massively Overthinking: Could bots save dying MMORPGs?

Last week, a reader named Chris, who is writing a paper on the MMO industry and revivifying sunsetted games, dropped an intriguing question into my inbox. It’s about bots – but not the sort of bots EVE Online is constantly fighting. The good kind.

“Do you think people would be interested in coming back to ‘closed’ MMO games if they were populated with AI bots instead of real players (to make them feel alive/populated)?” he asked me.

Let’s ponder that for today’s Overthinking. Certainly we’ve seen bots put to work in games like Camelot Unchained, which uses them to test massive numbers of players on the battlefield. Would you want to see them in live play? Would they help the feel of the world in ways that default NPCs simply would not? Is the AI even doable? Could AI bots take our place to make MMORPGs even better – or even to keep them viable and save them from destruction?

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Lineage 2 players are upset over Circlets of Power

So let’s do our best to break down how the latest kerfuffle in Lineage 2 started up. First, the game introduces a new set of items in the cash shop, the Circlets of Power, which are the best items you can get for that particular slot when fully upgraded. That’s going to definitely attract some cries about pay-to-win. Then, the upgrade process for those Circlets is also not assured. That’s also bad, but at least you still have the Circlet, right? Oh, except you have to upgrade them to +5 and a failed enchantment reverts the item to +0, that’s worse.

But… what if you also made the upgrade item a cash shop purchase? It’s like a lockbox where you gamble on how much more money you have to spend!

Do we even need to specify that players are unhappy about this? Because they really, really are. The announcement thread has also become the discussion thread, which prompts some speculation about whether or not the game will be balanced around the upgraded circlet or if it’ll be balanced around worse gear, thus rendering the circlets game-breakingly powerful. It also doesn’t really matter, because… yeah, this is kind of gross.

Source: Official Site, Official Forum; thanks to Martin for the tip!

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 157: Lunar Valentines

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin overdose on candy hearts as they look at Valentine’s Day in MMOs — as well as the Lunar New Year. From expansion alpha testing to a new MMO launch to unifying a game globally, it’s a pretty upbeat and positive week of podcast chatter.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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